It seems that most worthwhile stories set the stage, add dilemma, introduce an apparent solution, throw in an unexpected twist or two, create resolution, and teach a valuable lesson. If so, this one is worth the telling.
Set the stage: For as long as I can remember, I have loved to walk. I put hundreds of miles on my shoes every month. There was a period of ten consecutive years where I walked quite a bit less because I was either pregnant, or nursing, or both, and for 45 months (9 months, 5 times) during those years, I suffered from a morning sickness that couldn’t tell time. The experience has left me with some specific souvenirs, most notably a hearty gag reflex in response to certain sights, sounds, and tastes; but smells are definitely the worst. My biggest o-o (stands for ‘offending odor’ and I pronounce it uh-oh’) is rotting refuse.
The dilemma: Long daily walks are bound to take me past an occasional road kill or two and I try to hold my breath until most of the putrid problem is behind me. But the worst is trash day. My long walks take me through several neighborhoods and it seems that inevitably, no matter what day of the week it is, it is trash day in one or many of them! The streets are lined with containers of carnage; and the trash truck, the collection of all things contaminated, stirs it’s stench all around as it swirls and squishes what has been deposited – all the while passing me and stopping, passing me and stopping.
An apparent solution: When I lived on Oahu, I discovered a wonderful thing. I could pick up any plumeria flower off the ground and carry it with me. When I encountered an o-o I would hold the blossom under my nose and continue on my merry way.
A twist or two: The plumeria plan was effective and awesome until I moved off the island. I then found myself in a place without plumeria trees; a place with very little blooming at all. The open spaces were covered by what I called brushy cover- like ground cover, with a shape like brush. With no fragrant flower to carry, I modified my walks so as not to be ambushed by an o-o. I learned where the most dangerous ones were and how to avoid them.
One day I was out walking and my thoughts were interrupted by commotion in a parking lot up a slope to my right with about 12 feet of brushy cover between me and it. I looked up to see a car about 6 feet into the brushy cover with its nose down the slope and its back tires off the ground. A distraught grandfatherly figure, who was standing by the car, had apparently overshot his parking space and was being consoled by another man. The ruckus that had caught my attention was the back-up beep of a tow truck which had come to the rescue. The brushy cover was all bothered and broken under the weight of the car. All at once, I recognized a fresh and familiar fragrance that reminded me of bathed babies at bedtime… Lavender! The brushy cover that grew wildly all over everywhere was lavender!
The Resolution: I couldn’t have ordered a more perfect replacement for the plumeria than lavender. I have carried it ever since. It is powerful enough to cover the strongest of stenches and plentiful enough to find wherever I go. Today was not trash day in my neighborhood, but I was greeted with the o-o of rotten refuse as the rubbish truck drove into the elementary school across from my house to empty the dumpsters. I smiled, rubbed the lavender I had in my hand, held it up to my nose, and reflected on that day when I realized what that brushy cover was. If it were not for that car which had bothered and broken the plants, I might still be oblivious about its worth to me.
A valuable lesson: And then it struck me… when I am broken and bothered because someone has driven into me with their words, attitudes or emotions, do I release a pleasing aroma? When I reveal what is truly inside of me, is it sweet? I had to grimace at that one. When I am broken and bothered, what oozes out of me is more likely to be an o-o, an offensive odor. That is not as it should be. When I am broken, I want Jesus to seep out. When I am bothered, I want to release the fragrance of Christ. I want to be a surprising breath of fresh air to someone when they least expect it. I want to be like lavender.